Kentucky’s lush and diverse landscape makes it a dream destination for anyone seeking the thrill of adventure and awe-inspiring natural wonders. Here, you can delve into the Bluegrass State’s most beautiful national parks and prepare for an outdoors trip you’ll never forget.
Mammoth Cave National Park
Experience the world’s longest cave system, with over 400 miles of tunnels and passageways explored to date. The Mammoth-Flint Ridge Cave system feels like fantasy. There’s an overwhelming tangible quality to this UNESCO World Heritage Site that leaves you in awe as you wander into openings that look large enough to fit entire buildings. After touring the caves, you can indulge in other park activities, including horseback riding, hiking, and mountain biking.
Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park
Visit the birthplace and humble beginnings of America’s beloved 16th President Abraham Lincoln. Visitors can see a beautiful memorial building, with a cornerstone laid by Teddy Roosevelt in 1909, including a symbolic log cabin similar to the one Lincoln would’ve been born in. Note that the park is composed of two sites – Sinking Spring, where Lincoln was born, and Knob Creek, where he lived with his family in his early years.
Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area
Protecting a vast 125,000 acres of the Cumberland Plateau and the Big South Fork of the Cumberland River and its tributaries, this area of natural beauty is brimming with exciting activities and natural wonder. Explore vast, ancient forests, and conquer breathtaking gorges before spending the night under the stars. Visitors can also partake in kayaking, horseback riding, hunting, mountain biking, and fishing.
Cumberland Gap National Historical Park
Follow the path of the buffalo, natives, hunters, and pioneers, all of which used this majestic gateway to enter Kentucky’s vast wilderness. Its beauty will inspire you to get your walking boots on and explore. You’ll also go back in time as you tour the Hensley settlement, offering a window into the lives of the 19th-century communities of Cumberland Gap. Finally, your eyes will be treated to gorgeous mountain vistas, magical cascading waterfalls, and lush forests that seem to never end.
Fort Donelson National Battlefield
Visit a truly historically significant place in American history. A 1,000-acre natural monument that commemorates the Union’s first victory in the civil war. You’ll be transported into those early years as you tour perfectly-preserved confederate fortresses and learn of the historical significance of the battle. You can also take a moment to honor 670 civil war veterans interred at the Fort Donelson National Cemetery.
Trail of Tears National Historic Trail
A member of the National Trails System, the 2,200-mile Trail of Tears was designated as having significant importance in America’s history. The trail was part of the Indian removal policy, which saw the forced relocation of multiple tribes from the southeast to the west of the Mississippi River between 1830 and 1850. Thousands of lives were lost as they left their ancestral and spiritual homeland on the grueling path. You’ll have the opportunity to retrace their steps and visit multiple sacred sites that keep their story alive.